In December 2008, the government quietly awarded the £150m contract to collect and securely handle the 2011 census data to Lockheed Martin, the second-largest arms manufacturer in the world. It makes bombs, bomber jets and has run most of the US military’s intelligence gathering and interrogation, including at Guantánamo Bay, where it operated through subsidiary companies. Nice people to be doing business with.
Even if we ignore the fact that Lockheed Martin sits at No 1 on the Pogo Federal Contractor Misconduct database, with more than 50 alleged cases of corruption, fraud, bribery, environmental damage and discrimination, there’s worse to come. As a US-owned company, under the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, Lockheed Martin can be forced to hand over any private data in its possession to the US government and/or the CIA. It doesn’t make the government’s promises to keep our data safe sound quite so reassuring.
This is scary, if somewhat inevitable. I need to look at how to avoid being at home on census day.
What on earth possesses governments to award contracts for such jobs to non-British companies? Are they utterly mad?
Don’t answer that.